How editors work: no we don’t just read books all day for fun!

What do we do?And why?

I have worked with a lot of people on a lot of manuscripts over the years. A huge amount of what I do comes from recommendations as well as repeat business but every month I have enquiries from new clients, a lot of then at the beginning of their writer’s journey and they have reached the point where they need editorial input. But what do we do?

What falls outside an editor’s remit and what can you expect?

I think we all work in slightly different ways and what I do more of than anything else is professional critique which is more than your basic edit. I do copy edit and proof read as I go when I critique for you — but I also spend a lot of time looking not only at style and phrasing but also the plot, the structure, the voice, the way characters are developed, their motivation for action, as well as examining marketability of the novel in a general sense. Some writers do a great job and it is more copy editing, in other cases they need a lot of work and we have more of a mentoring relationship, if they’re serious about their goals. Most fall somewhere in between.

A full critique is detailed and I like to see it as a masterclass in how to add energy and strength to your writing and give it a better chance of being traditionally published or doing well if self-published. Of course, there are no guarantees but it will make a difference. It might not be this one that’s picked up. It is often a third or fourth novel, but it is a process the writer needs if serious.  It helped me and still does as we need fresh eyes on our work, no matter who we are.

I was determined to find  a publisher with my work because I wanted the input an editor gives — it’s invaluable. It’s the best way we learn. And whatever your goals it could be the best thing you do for your writing.

So I do offer a proof read as a final check for people (this is my least favourite thing to do of all my editing services as this is more technical. This is more crossing the ‘i’s‘ and dotting the ‘t’s), a line copy edit ( a proof but more looking at style, phrasing, word choice  etc.) with a short report — and a full on critique. This is very much the level of detail you will also get if I critique for you via Cornerstones the big literary consultancy. I tend to do one of these every couple of months, and a fair bit if short story mentoring for them. Most of my work is privately commissioned. But because Cornerstones have to approve you and that means testing you with critiquing then it did mean their acceptance as one of their editors is a validation of what I do. Anyone can set up as an editor. So you need this, I hear horror stories of terrible editors, ask for a sample if you need to, I am always happy to do that for prospective clients. I have to say whenever I do, I always get the job! I was determined to be armed with the right tools to do this job when I started out, just being a writer wasn’t enough. So I did an editing and proof reading course with the Writer’s Bureau on top of my MA in Creative Writing and as well as being a published writer myself and working for a couple of small presses. The repeat business, the lovely comments and the validation from Cornerstones and Troubadour (who I did a fair bit of editing for), validated that I am doing a good job, or I hope so. I certainly strive to.

So does an editor rewrite your work? No. I might rephrase a sentence here and there, or suggest a revision to it and why. I might illustrate what I mean by telling and showing by reworking a scene or a paragraph if I feel the writer needs that, but I don’t do the work for you. That’s something else, that’s ghost writing. I don’t do that although I am involved in a non-fiction project like that at the moment. But he’s well known and a friend.

I will correct grammar and typo issues but again I always use Tracked Changes so the writer can decide to accept or reject a revision. I will flag inconsistencies in style, voice, detail. I will comment on plot and structure and suggest revision and why. The idea is that you learn to be a better writer through the process of editing and if you just handed the manuscript back reworked the writer would never learn. And it means it remains your work — you are the writer but alongside a good editor the writing can be its very best.

So if you need an editor then get in touch, especially if you want a critique, as this is how you will really learn both your strengths and weaknesses.

A good relationship with your editor is vital and that’s why I offer follow-up phone calls, help as you edit, a follow-up edit service post revision, and keep my prices affordable.

I like to think, above all else, as you move closer to publication, that I become more than the editor but a friend and I have to say I do feel as if I have a lot of friends who write 🙂

Have a great day everyone.




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